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Influential country singer Ray Price dead at 87


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Price continued performing and recording well into his 70s.

"I have to be in the business at least five or 10 more years," Price said in 2000, when he and his band were doing 100 shows a year.

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"Two or three years ago, we did 182," he said. "Fans come to the shows, bless their hearts, they always come."

In 2007, he joined Haggard and Nelson on a double-CD set, "Last of the Breed." The trio performed on tour with the Texas swing band Asleep at the Wheel.

"I’ll be surprised if we don’t all get locked up somewhere," Price joked at the time.

Over the years, Price came in and out of vogue as traditional country music waxed and waned on the radio. He was a constant advocate for the old days and ways of country music, and more recently re-entered the news when he took offense to comments Blake Shelton made about classic country music that included the words "old farts." The dustup drew attention on the Internet and introduced Price to a new generation of country fans.

"You should be so lucky as us old-timers," Price said in a happily cantankerous post in all capital letters. "Check back in 63 years (the year 2075) and let us know how your name and your music will be remembered."

Price earned his long-standing fame honestly, weaving himself into the story of modern country music in several ways.

As a young man, Price became friends with Williams, toured with the country legend and shared a house with him in Nashville. Williams even let Price use his band, the Drifting Cowboys, and the two wrote a song together, the modest Price hit "Weary Blues (From Waiting)".

By 1952 Price was a regular member of the Grand Ole Opry.


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The singer had one of country music’s great bands, the Cherokee Cowboys, early in his career. His lineup included at times Nelson, Miller and Johnny Paycheck.

His 1956 version of "Crazy Arms" became a landmark song for both Price and country music. His first No. 1 country hit, the song rode a propulsive beat into the pop top 100 as well. Using a drummer and bassist to create a country shuffle rhythm, he eventually established a sound that would become a trademark.

"It was strictly country and it went pop," Price said of the song. "I never have figured that one out yet."

Price was born near Perryville, Texas, in 1926 and was raised in Dallas. He joined the Marines for World War II and then studied to be a veterinarian at North Texas Agricultural College before he decided on music as a career.

Soft-spoken and urbane, Price told the AP in 1976: "I’m my own worst critic. I don’t like to hear myself sing or see myself on television. I see too many mistakes."

He was one of the few who saw them.

Talbott reported from Nashville, Tenn. Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman in McAllen, Texas, and Kristin M. Hall in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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